Who hasn’t dreamed of an island escape? When the weather’s cold, the world outside is scary (pandemics notwithstanding), and there’s just somewhere else you’d rather be, who hasn’t dreamed of that paradise?
With winter coming up and another couple months of COVID cabin fever on the horizon, now’s as good a time as any to dream.
Situated just off the coast of Belize, Caye Caulker is the kind of place that looks like it was custom made for vacations. And in a way, it’s true: once a prominent fishing village, Caye Caulker is now almost wholly reliant on tourism to power its economy, not unlike many other islands on this list. It’s not hard to see why. Picturesque to the extreme and relatively small, Caye Caulker is it’s own little slice of paradise.
You know when you see pictures of above water bungalows alongside a tropical setting posted by rich people when they go on honeymoons? Yeah, what you’re thinking of is usually Bora Bora. Surrounding the exterior of a dormant volcano (!) are a number of beautiful bungalows that allow their own island-like seclusion among an already peaceful surrounding.
Aw, is someone still scared of the Bermuda Triangle? Well, your loss. The rest of us are going to enjoy the beautiful island of Bermuda, which has a rich history and culture in addition to its reputation as a beautifully scenic locale. Don’t let its supernatural reputation dissuade you from making this a top-priority vacation destination. And hey, if you end up finding Amelia Earhart’s remains, that’s a bonus.
You’ll need to endure a pretty hefty plane ride if you want to experience the sublime nature of Seychelles. Just for reference, it’s about 1,500 kilometers east from mainland Africa and is visually closest to Madagascar. But this archipelago is to die for: it’s capital, Victoria, is about as beautiful as it gets, and you can traverse the multiple islands within the island of Seychelles. If Island Inception isn’t the best reason to visit a tropical island, I don’t know what is.
The largest island among the Society Islands is Tahiti, which you’ve probably heard of. It’s got a reputation as an ideal honeymoon destination. The truth? It’s expensive as hell. If you look about 11 miles northwest, you’ll see an island that looks a lot like Tahiti, except slightly smaller, less well known, and way more accommodating for those that aren’t willing to dish out their life savings for a vacation. Welcome to Mo’orea: all the amenities of Tahiti without the crippling debt that comes with it’s sister island.
Do you like turtles? How about Charles Darwin’s history of evolution? Now? Well you’re just going to have to settle with the absolutely lovely natural scenery, serene beaches, and once-in-a-lifetime scuba diving experiences. Poor you.
Remember those god awful Sandals commercials? The ones where old people played shuffleboard while overlooking a gigantic pool with the company’s logo in it. That’s in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and you can easily avoid the geriatic Sandals Resort by choosing one of a number of alternative options for your island vacation. I guess technically Jamaica would be the island, but I’m cheating by naming a bay instead of the island as a whole. Sue me. Montego Bay is too beautiful not to mention here.
What I’ve learned by researching this article is that a tropical island is apparently only as good as the overwater bungalows it provides. I mean, if you can’t brag on Instagram about your vacation, what is even the point of going, right? I’ve seen some impressive bungalows so far, but they don’t get much better than the ones in this southerwestern Asian island country.
What’s the best part of Puerto Rico? Is it the rich historical context that colors the nation? Maybe the delicious cuisine that you can only really get there? Perhaps the ability to hop from one picturesque beach to another pretty much anywhere you land on the island? Nope, it’s that you can experience all of that without needing a passport. Life is good in Puerto Rico.
Any of the assorted Bahamas
Go ahead and choose your favorite destination: there’s Paradise Island, which houses the famous Atlantis Resort; New Providence, which houses the capital city of Nassau; the awesomely named but largely feline-vacant Cat Island; Grand Bahama, which is so great that it got to be the only eponymous island; and a large number more. Anywhere you go, expect beautiful beaches and luxurious vacation escapes.
As previously seen, you don’t have to restrict your tropical island vacations to just the Caribbean. If you’re interested in experiencing some truly tropical destinations, book a flight all the way out to the Philippines and land in Palawan. Boating around some truly stunning rock formations is just the first of many adventures you’ll have at this beautiful but little-known island nation.
Another place that most of us have seen, whether in pictures or movies, but couldn’t quite place on a map, this Greek island works largely as a shorthand for the country itself. Traditional Greek architecture? Check. Long and storied history? Check. Alleged home of the lost city of Atlantis? Oh boy, check. C’mon, do you not want to visit Atlantis?!
We couldn’t really assemble a list of tropical islands and not include something from Hawai’i. While the big island gets a lot of love, Maui has the grandest reputation for beautiful getaways, and Oahu is literally nicknamed “The Gathering Place”, Kaua’i is definitely the hidden gem of the group. Rainforests and waterfalls as far as the eye can see, there are still plenty of beaches and traditional culture to indulge anyone who has dreamed of a real-deal Hawai’i vacation.
Among the Italian islands, I really wanted to choose Stromboli and make a stupid food joke out of it. But since it’s mostly just an active volcano (which is cool too), let’s go with something a little more alluring. Capri is just off the mainland and close enough to Naples to let you kill two birds with one stone on an Italian vacation. But if you’re only going to choose one, stick with Capri. You won’t be disappointed.
Those damn French, colonizing all the best Carribean islands for themselves. St. Barts had its indigeneous populations, but it’s unsure if it was a permanent residency or a stop over island for other civilizations. Either way, when the French got there, they made into a tourist mecca. Looking like the kind of place that only the elite can visit, St. Barts is surprisingly attainable for those who don’t quite have pocketbook for other Carribean islands, making it a spectacular hidden gem.